The Mail & Guardian interviewer is rather easily persuaded:
“Yes, yes, I know, I know. People say I’m shrill and strident.” Dawkins has a theory about this [writes the reporter], which is very persuasive. “We’ve all been brought up with the view that religion has some kind of special privileged status. You’re not allowed to criticise it. And therefore, if you offer even a fairly mild criticism, it really does sound strident, because it violates this expectation that religion is out of bounds.”
[Link: Science is losing to religion – Mail & Guardian Online
Herewith, then, a few examples of Dawkins’s “fairly mild criticism:”
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place.
I’ve met plenty of people who call themselves religious, but when you actually probe, when you ask them in detail what they believe, it turns out to be this very same awe and wonder that Wilson and Einstein talked about. If they’re genuinely intelligent, it does not involve the supernatural…. My suggestion is that you won’t find any intelligent person who feels the need for the supernatural.
As a Darwinian, the aspect of religion that catches my attention is its profligate wastefulness, its extravagant display of baroque uselessness…. Though the details differ across cultures, no known culture lacks some version of the time-consuming, wealth-consuming, hostility-provoking, fecundity-forfeiting rituals of religion.
And finally, when asked, “If you had to make a case for religion—one positive, if minor, thing religion has done—what would it be?” he answered,
… I really don’t think I can think of anything; I really can’t.
I guess the “very persuasive” reason all of this sounds shrill and strident is only because up until Dawkins, no one has criticized religion. (Could this erstwhile Professor for the Public Understanding of Science really be that out of touch? And the reporter, too?)